Clarifying some Misconceptions about the Seven Qiraa’aat: Ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah once received a letter with a series of questions regarding the different huroof/ahruf (dialects) and various qiraa’aat (modes of recitation) of the Qur’an. One part of this question read:

وسئل عن قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف } ” ما المراد بهذه السبعة ؟ وهل هذه القراءات المنسوبة إلى نافع وعاصم وغيرهما هي الأحرف السبعة أو واحد منها ؟ ـ

The sheikh was asked about the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “The Qur’an was revealed in seven ahruf” – what is meant by these seven? And are the qiraa’aat which are attributed to Naafi’, ‘Aasim and others these seven ahruf, or only one of them?

So the sheikh responded to this question by writing:

فنقول : لا نزاع بين العلماء المعتبرين أن ” الأحرف السبعة ” التي ذكر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن القرآن أنزل عليها ليست هي ” قراءات القراء السبعة المشهورة ” بل أول من جمع قراءات هؤلاء هو الإمام أبو بكر بن مجاهد وكان على رأس المائة الثالثة ببغداد فإنه أحب أن يجمع المشهور من قراءات الحرمين والعراقين والشام ; إذ هذه الأمصار الخمسة هي التي خرج منها علم النبوة من القرآن وتفسيره والحديث والفقه من الأعمال الباطنة والظاهرة وسائر العلوم الدينية فلما أراد ذلك جمع قراءات سبعة مشاهير من أئمة قراء هذه الأمصار ; ليكون ذلك موافقا لعدد الحروف التي أنزل عليها القرآن لا لاعتقاده أو اعتقاد غيره من العلماء أن القراءات السبعة هي الحروف السبعة أو أن هؤلاء السبعة المعينين هم الذين لا يجوز أن يقرأ بغير قراءتهم . ـ

I say: Among the scholars whose views are given weight, there is no disagreement that the seven ahruf which the Prophet (ﷺ) said the Qur’an was sent down in are not the same thing as the qiraa’aat of the seven well-known reciters.

To the contrary, the first person who grouped these qiraa’aat together was Imam Abu Bakr ibn Mujahid, who lived in Baghdad at the beginning of the third century. He did this because he wanted to compile the well-known qiraa’aat of Mecca, Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, and Syria, as these were the five cities from which the Prophetic knowledge of the Qur’an, its tafsir, hadeeth, fiqh of both the outward and internal actions, and all other religious sciences spread. Continue reading

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Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading

Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Before proceeding to explain surah al-Fatihah verse-by-verse, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi included a short discussion of its well-known names and when it was revealed:

 ولها ثلاثة أسماء معروفة فاتحة الكتاب وأم القرآن والسبع المثاني . ـ

Surah al-Fatihah has three well-known names, which are:

سميت فاتحة الكتاب ؛ لأن الله بها افتتح القرآن . وسميت أم القرآن وأم الكتاب لأنها أصل القرآن منها بدئ القرآن وأم الشيء أصله ، ويقال لمكة : أم القرى؛ لأنها أصل البلاد دحيت الأرض من تحتها وقيل لأنها مقدمة وإمام لما يتلوها من السور يبدأ بكتابتها في المصحف وبقراءتها في الصلاة والسبع المثاني لأنها سبع آيات باتفاق العلماء . وسميت مثاني لأنها تثنى في الصلاة فتقرأ في كل ركعة وقال مجاهد سميت مثاني لأن الله تعالى استثناها لهذه الأمة فذخرها لهم . ـ

It is called Fatihah al-Kitaab because Allah opens the Qur’an with it.

And it is called Umm al-Qur’an or Umm al-Kitaab because it is the foundation of the Qur’an with which the Qur’an begins, and the umm of something is its foundation. Mecca is called Umm al-Quraa because it was the origin of the cities which spread out across the surrounding land. And it is also said that surah al-Fatihah is called Umm al-Qur’an because it is an introduction and a leader for the surahs which follow it. Its text begins the mushaf and its recitation begins the prayer. Continue reading

A Point on Numbering in the Qur’an: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In surah al-Kahf, Allah mentions the following ayaat during his discussion of the People of the Cave:

سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّ‌ابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَ‌جْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُل رَّ‌بِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ

They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen. And they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few….” [18:22]

In his explanation of Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiya’s “Introduction to Tafsir”, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen took some time to expand on this ayah and some of the points related to it. Below is one of these points:

وهنا نكتة في مسألة العدد، قال: {سبعة وثامنهم كلبهم} ولم يقل ثمانية ثامنهم كلبهم؛ لأن الكلب من غير الجنس، وإذا كان من غير الجنس فإنه لا يدخل في العدد ولكنه يجعل بعده، ولهذا قال الله عز وجل: {ما يكون من نجوى ثلاثة إلا هو رابعهم} ولم يقل: من نجوى أربعة إلا هو رابعهم؛ لأنه خالق وهم مخلوقون. ـ

And here there is a point about quantities. Allah said:

سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ

there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog [18:22]

And He did not say, “there were eight, and eighth of them was their dog”, because the dog was not of the same category of being. So since it was not of the same category of being, it was not included in their count but instead was mentioned afterwards. Continue reading

Precautionary Language in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Imam Muslim recorded the following hadeeth in his Saheeh, that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ

The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, but there is good in both of them. …

[Saheeh Muslim #2664]

In part of his commentary on this hadeeth in Riyaadh al-Saaliheen, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen mentioned the following:

وقوله: (خير) يعني خير من المؤمن الضعيف، وأحب إلى الله من المؤمن الضعيف، ثم قال ـ عليه الصلاة والسلام ـ: (وفي كل خير) يعني المؤمن القوي والمؤمن الضعيف كل منهما فيه خير، وإنما قال: (وفي كل خير) لئلا يتوهم أحد من الناس أن المؤمن الضعيف لا خير فيه، بل المؤمن الضعيف فيه خير، فهو خير من الكافر لا شك. ـ

The Prophet’s statement “better” is referring to: better than the weak believer, and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer. But then he (ﷺ) said, “but there is good in both of them,” meaning: both the strong believer and the weak believer have good in them. He only said, “but there is good in both of them” lest one might wrongly suppose that there is no good in the weak believer. On the contrary, there is good in the weak believer, for there is no doubt that he is better than a disbeliever.

وهذا الأسلوب يسميه البلاغيون الاحتراز، وهو أن يتكلم الإنسان كلاماً يوهم معنى لا يقصده، فيأتي بجملة تبين أنه يقصد المعنى المعين، ومثال ذلك في القرآن قوله تبارك وتعالى: (لا يَسْتَوِي مِنْكُمْ مَنْ أَنْفَقَ مِنْ قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُولَئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِنَ الَّذِينَ أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا وَكُلّاً وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى) (الحديد: 10) ، لما كان قوله: (أُولَئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِنَ الَّذِينَ أَنْفَقُوا مِنْبَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا) يوهم أن الآخرين ليس لهم حظ من هذا، قال: (وَكُلّاً وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى) . ـ

This type of language has been called “precautionary language” by the the experts of linguistic style. That is when a person says something that might mistakenly be taken in a way which he didn’t intend, and so he brings another sentence or clause to clarify the exact meaning that he intended.

There are a number of examples of this in the Qur’an. Take Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Eemaan is Belief, Statements, and Actions: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah begins surah al-Baqarah with the following words:

الم * ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ * الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ … ـ

Alif Lam Meem * This is the Book about which there is no doubt. A guidance for the muttaqoon * those who believe in the Unseen … [2:1-3]

In many of the books of tafsir, explanation of terms or important topics will usually be placed at the first mention of that thing in the mushaf unless there is some motivating reason to delay it. Here, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir took the first instance of a derivative of the word al-eemaan to define and discuss it:

قال أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن العلاء بن المسيب بن رافع ، عن أبي إسحاق ، عن أبي الأحوص ، عن عبد الله ، قال : الإيمان التصديق . وقال علي بن أبي طلحة وغيره ، عن ابن عباس ، ( يؤمنون ) يصدقون . وقال معمر عن الزهري : الإيمان العمل . وقال أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن الربيع بن أنس : ( يؤمنون ) يخشون . ـ

Abu Ja’far al-Razi reported that … ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said, “al-Eemaan is belief”.

And ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah and others transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “yu’minoon means: they believed”.

Mu’mar said that al-Zuhri said, “al-Eemaan is action.”

And Abu Ja’far al-Razi recorded that al-Rabee’ ibn Anas said, “yu’minoon means: they feared”.

قال ابن جرير وغيره : والأولى أن يكونوا موصوفين بالإيمان بالغيب قولا واعتقادا وعملا قال : وقد تدخل الخشية لله في معنى الإيمان ، الذي هو تصديق القول بالعمل ، والإيمان كلمة جامعة للإقرار بالله وكتبه ورسله ، وتصديق الإقرار بالفعل . قلت : أما الإيمان في اللغة فيطلق على التصديق المحض ، وقد يستعمل في القرآن ، والمراد به ذلك ، كما قال تعالى : ( يؤمن بالله ويؤمن للمؤمنين ) [ التوبة : 61 ] ، وكما قال إخوة يوسف لأبيهم : ( وما أنت بمؤمن لنا ولو كنا صادقين ) [ يوسف : 17 ] ، وكذلك إذا استعمل مقرونا مع الأعمال ؛ كقوله : ( إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات ) [ الانشقاق : 25 ، والتين : 6 ] ، فأما إذا استعمل مطلقا فالإيمان الشرعي المطلوب لا يكون إلا اعتقادا وقولا وعملا . ـ

Ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] and others said, “The most proper understanding is that these people are characterized by having eemaan in the Unseen, manifested in their statements, their beliefs, and their actions.” And he also said, “Fear of Allah could also be included in the meaning of al-eemaan, as it is an affirmation of one’s statement through his actions. al-Eemaan is a comprehensive term for an affirmative belief in Allah, His Books, and His Messengers, as well as actualizing that affirmation through one’s actions.” Continue reading

Meanings of the words Yahood, Nasaara and Saabi’oon: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Imam al-Baghawi offers some linguistic definitions and benefits in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah [2:62] by writing:

 ـ ( إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا ) يعني اليهود سموا به لقولهم إنا هدنا إليك أي ملنا إليك وقيل لأنهم هادوا أي تابوا عن عبادة العجل وقيل لأنهم مالوا عن دين الإسلام وعن دين موسى عليه السلام وقال أبو عمرو بن العلاء : لأنهم يتهودون أي يتحركون عند قراءة التوراة ويقولون : إن السماوات والأرض تحركت حين آتى الله موسى التوراة . ـ

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا

Verily! Those who believe and those who haadoo … [2:62]

meaning, the Yahood (Jews). They were called by that due to their statement

إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ

indeed, we have hudnaa to You. [7:156]

meaning, we have turned to You.

And some say that they are called that because they haadoo [reconciled] – i.e. repented – from their calf-worship.

Some others say they are called that because they turned away from the religion of Islam and from the religion of Moosaa (peace be upon him).

Abu ‘Amr ibn al-‘Alaa’ said they are called that because they yatahawwadoon – meaning they rock and sway when they are reciting the Tawrah and because they say that the heavens and the earth shook when Allah gave Moosaa the Tawrah. Continue reading

A Note on Qur’anic Dictionaries: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool wrote the following short clarification on his personal blog:

 معلومة حول كتب معاني كلمات القرآن وكتب غريب القرآن: ـ
Some information regarding books on Qur’anic terms and uncommon vocabulary

ليس كل ما جاز لغة جاز تفسيراً، وهناك قوم يستندون في تفسيرهم على الاستدلال، يفسرون الآيات والأحاديث بحسب اللغة، فنتج عن هذا إهمال المرادات الشرعية؛ ـ
– فأضاعوا الحقائق الشرعية للألفاظ، ـ
– وأضاعوا الحقائق العرفية للألفاظ، ـ
وبالتالي صار عندنا تفسير قرآن ليس هو التفسير الذي أراده الله سبحانه وتعالى. ـ

Not everything which is true linguistically is true in terms of tafsir, however there are some people who base their explanations of the Qur’an upon linguistic analysis and explain the ayaat and ahaadeeth according to their linguistic meanings. This, however, leads to a neglect of their intended sharee’ah-based meanings. So they neglect the true sharee’ah meanings of these words, and they also neglect the actual conventional meanings of the words. In our view, by doing so these explanations of the Qur’an are not the explanation which Allah meant for us to understand. Continue reading

Divorce in the Qur’an – Part 2: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter of his book to the issues related to marriage and divorce. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the ninth section overall – and the second on divorce – : 12345678 – 9 – 10

وقال تعالى: {يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا} [الأحزاب: 49] ـ

And Allah said:

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا

O you who believe! When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not any ‘iddah to count concerning them for you. Then provide for them, and release them in a handsome manner. [33:49]

ففي هذه الآية أن المفارقة في الحياة بطلاق ونحوه ليس لزوجها عليها عدة إذا لم يدخل أو يخل بها، بل بمجرد ما يطلقها لها التزوج في الحال. ـ

So this ayah contains the fact that separation while both are alive due to divorce and the likes of that does not require any ‘iddah (waiting period) for the wife if the husband has not had intercourse with her or been alone with her in seclusion. Rather, from the very moment of her being divorced she is able to marry (another person) in that scenario.

وفي هذا أن العدة تثبت بالدخول، وكذلك الخلوة، كما ثبت عن الخلفاء الراشدين، ومفهوم الآية أن الفراق بالموت تعتد له الزوجة المعقود عليها ولو قبل الدخول . ـ

And this ayah also contains the fact that the ‘iddah is confirmed in the case of intercourse, and likewise in the case of seclusion, as has been authenticated by the Rightly-Guided Khulafaa’. And the implication of this ayah is that in the case of separation by death, the wife who is engaged in a marriage contract must complete the ‘iddah for her husband even if the death took place prior to intercourse. Continue reading